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David

You've 'returned'! Been waiting patiently for you're insight and good-humoured blog posts.

Excellent as always. And, good work on the website updates (just noticed) - clean, clearly written and concise.

Euan

Great post Sig. I remember spending happy night shifts at the BBC plotting how we could outsource the management rather than the staff. You could keep going doing your job without management until you sensed the need of some help with a transition, hire a manager for a bit, then let them go when you didn't need them any more ...

sig

David, thank you, thank you! Sometimes it's better to wait until one has something to say I'd say :)

Euan, perfect, "outsource management" is exactly it! It sounds extremely radical for most but once you think about what managers "really do" then it's rather self evident. After all it's non-value-creation in the same vein as emptying the waste bins.
I think Spolsky's suggestion to replace "manage" with "administrate" would help to make people see it for what it is.

As an aside, one of our recent "projects" here for a generic run-your-business thing where accounting and more is automated, meetings and email made redundant - we chose the working title to be BMaaS, Business Management as a Service. Ideal is to let the business focus solely on actual value-creation, the rest is only costly fluff :)

PeteC

You can drive a bus through some of the logic but interesting thoughts.

I've worked in both 'roman' and flat organisations and I know which was best to work for and which was most effective (not efficient though). Sadly they were not the same.

At the flat org we went too far and eventually the staff asked for a few managers to be put in to facilitate actitives. There, that's not a phrase you hear about managers much!

sig

Pete,

the important point, that I might have stressed better of course, is the following:

1. A workflow (as any process) requires a framework, like water needs riverbeds/pipelines to be useful.
2. Management = current workflow (process) framework.

That means that you cannot simply dump the management without having an alternative in place. Replace is the core term here.
Morning Star has a rather complicated, but still manual, solution, Apple had a rather different one heavily dependent on a single pivot point (Jobs) who was willing to engage everywhere of importance.
And, as you refer to your experience, any "current "flat" organisation suffer from the same issue; dumping a framework without a replacing alternative does not solve much, it rather adds new problems.

3. Management as a process framework is manual and hugely costly and should be replaced - a matter of discussion of course, but seems to be the case when you look at the numbers.

So the issue is really only - what alternative process framework could replace the management process framework?

My view is that IT can do it, once the developers stop accepting management as a given and hence keep on modeling the old model. But most are not there at all, they still focus on efficiency and making the old ways marginally more efficient.

DaveE

Like in all things, there are good or effective managers and poor ones. Unfortunately, there are myriad other qualities that would place one in the two big buckets and a lot of that has to do with the corporate culture. There are organizations that would flourish without managers and ones that would come to a standstill because the very act of interviewing employees was made based on reliance on hierarchy and innability to self start without manager blessing. It is these organization, whether right or wrong, that have allowed managers to be nothing more than "empire builders" dragging projects out for years and stiffling ideas by being the only conduit. I very much agree with the ideas behind this post and woe is the enterprise that is not having this discussion. Nicely done!

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